• mariokiefer

Bougie Becky and Pays it Forward

It was a just a few days before Christmas of 2018, when Bougie Becky woke to the jarring sounds of her alarm clock at 6 AM. She was tired since she had not gotten to sleep until late. She had been working at the soup kitchen downtown yesterday and did not leave until 10 PM. By the time she made it home in the terrible Austin traffic, it was an hour later. She tried to go to sleep but found it difficult because her mind was filled with thoughts about the funeral she had to attend tomorrow afternoon; the funeral for her beloved sister who had passed away unexpectedly in a horrific accident on State Highway 71. Because she was so tired, she hit the snooze button on her alarm twice and, by the time she finally rose from her slumber, realized that she was running late.


In his own home, Sammy Starbuck rose around the same time. He had gotten to bed pretty early last night and had a good night’s rest, so he was, as they say, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to take on the day. He was excited about the prospect of getting to work. He did not work at the coffee shop out of any particular need for the money. In fact, he was independently wealthy. He worked because he enjoyed being a barista and liked the social interaction from serving up coffee to those who came in looking for same. Not everyone who worked at the coffee shop was as lucky as he, so he counted his blessings. Once he was dressed and ready, he jumped into his 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and drove to the little coffee shop.


Bougie Becky packed up the “meals-on-wheels” that she was set to deliver this morning, but when she went out to her Toyota Corolla, the car would not start. It had been acting up a lot lately and she knew that she was going to have to do something about it but had not yet had the opportunity. She asked her friend. Fancy Fiona if she could borrow her car. Fancy Fiona happily loaned to Bougie Becky her Lexus and the latter drove off to make her deliveries, but in her haste and distraction, Bougie Becky left her handbag behind. (Cue ominous music here.)


Sammy Starbuck got to the coffee shop and opened it up for the never-ending stream of customers that were about to come. He laughed and joked with his co-workers. Today was payday, but that did not matter to Sammy Starbuck since he intended to donate the entirety of his paycheck to “meals-on-wheels.” He did this with every paycheck since he did not need the money.


Bougie Becky was in a hurry to finish the deliveries so that she could return Fancy Fiona’s car before heading out to the funeral. She had been so intent on getting the deliveries made that she had neglected to have anything to eat herself or even imbibe a cup of coffee. She knew that she should have taken the day off given the circumstances, but those home-bound cancer patients were counting on her to deliver their food. She decided to make a quick run through the coffee shop’s drive-up window so that she might have something to fuel her throughout the rest of the day. She considered that $5 - $8 was a bit much to spend on a cup of joe, but this was the only way that she was going to have anything before this afternoon’s service. It was only then that she realized that she had forgotten her handbag. Frantically, she searched each and every cubbyhole in Fancy Fiona’s Lexus hoping to scare up enough change to pay for the coffee that she so desperately wanted and had already ordered.


Meanwhile, Merry Mary was a good person, or so she always told herself. Each morning, she went into the coffee shop for a little pick-me-up before her Zoomba class. She considered herself to be quite forward thinking and thought that it was a shame that these baristas earned so little money. She considered Sammy Starbuck quite good-looking and wondered what circumstances of his life had led him to take such a low place. Because of this, she always generously tipped her barista. He needed the money more than she, after all. Of course, the fact that he was an attractive man did not dissuade her from turning him down when he had asked her out on a date. He was only a barista and she had her standards, after all. Still, she watched him as he took orders from the drive-up window wondering what it would be like for her if she had said yes to his proposal.


In the line of cars at the drive-up window, Generous Gene thought about his life. He had a good day ahead since he was closing a rather large business deal later that afternoon. Despite this knowledge of the day ahead, he was feeling down. His wife had recently left him because, as she put it, he worked too much and now she had found company in the arms of another man. He worked hard to provide for her the things that she wanted, but still that had not been enough. Generous Gene knew that he could not allow his wife’s indiscretion to weigh him down, so he chose instead to look at the positive. He knew that sometimes little acts of kindness made him feel better. When he noticed the woman in the Lexus behind him searching through the contents of the car for what he could only assume was spare change to pay for her coffee, he handed Sammy Starbuck an extra $5 and asked him to apply it to the woman’s order. Without question, Sammy Starbuck thanked Generous Gene for being such a good person and put the cash aside on the counter to apply to Bougie Becky’s bill.


Merry Mary saw the entire interaction at the window. “Typical,” she thought. Here was this man driving a fancy car paying for an overpriced latte for the woman in the equally fancy car behind him. Didn’t he realize that Sammy Starbuck (the man working a menial job; the type of man she never would date) needed the money more than the ‘bougie’ woman behind him? So, she took to social media and posted her thoughts.


Naturally, the post went viral and there were hundreds (if not thousands) of responses all shaming the “bougie” woman and the man for “paying it forward” to the wrong type of person. He should have given the money to the poor barista at the window, they said. But Bougie Becky didn’t see those posts until two or three days later when her friend Fancy Fiona sent them to her and asked, “Is this about you?” Becky was beside herself with anger, at first. These people who were commenting had no clue about her life! How could they be so judgmental when they knew absolutely nothing about the circumstances? But it wasn’t long before Becky shrugged her shoulders and laughed it off realizing that some people just want to complain - even if they don’t know what they are complaining about.

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